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Opinion

Newcastle team v Norwich predicted with three changes

1 month ago
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Looking at this Newcastle team v Norwich.

Eddie Howe and his team looking to make it four wins in a row in the Premier League..

If Newcastle win this Saturday afternoon, they will move into the top half of the table for sure, as Brighton don’t play until Sunday (home to Southampton). Whilst if Eddie Howe get the three points today and Leicester fail to win at home to Villa this afternoon, NUFC would actually go ninth in the Premier League. Madness.

So what can we expect the Newcastle team v Norwich to be?

As a starting point…

This was the Newcastle team v Crystal Palace (and Leicester):

Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett, Joelinton, Guimaraes, Shelvey, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Wood

Eddie Howe on Friday morning said that only three players were definitely ruled out, long-term injured Callum Wilson and Kieran Trippier, plus Ryan Fraser who the head coach said would be touch and go as to whether he would play at all again this season. The winger’s latest scans on a hamstring problem suggesting it wasn’t a serious problem but one that would mean he wasn’t available for the time being.

After having played Sunday and Wednesday, reaching 40 points and seemingly all but certain safety, Eddie Howe did though suggest he could / would rotate his squad: ‘We may freshen things up. We’ll look at it on an individual basis but we want players that are 100% fit and ready to give their best again physically. We’ve had a big physical effort so we need to be ready.’

Even without Eddie Howe publicly saying that, I think it would have been a fair assumption anyway, to expect changes to the starting eleven. The combination of games in quick succession and reaching the 40 points mark, pointing to that certainty /likelihood.

In reality, it isn’t even a case of playing a weaker team, because if certain players aren’t going to be 100%, then replacing them with others who are 100%, is indeed playing your strongest (available) eleven.

However, it then becomes guesswork as to who may not be 100% and indeed, which players Eddie Howe sees as needing a rest, using his own eyes as well as the data he will have at his disposal.

With midfielders and attacking players tending to have a bigger workload in terms of ground covered and sprints etc, they are far more likely to be physically less than 100%, than say the goalkeeper and centre-backs.

So I think safe to expect Martin Dubravka will start today, the same with Burn and Schar who I think Eddie Howe will be loathe to split up regardless.

The defence has been in great form and in the last five hours of football, only one goal has been conceded, which was the clever corner kick routine by Leicester and Lookman scoring.

I have a feeling that both full-backs will also remain unchanged. Matt Targett has been incredibly consistent and excellent, arguably man of the match against Palace, whilst Emil Krafth probably had his best ever NUFC match on Wednesday night.

So who might / will be changed from the starting eleven who beat both Leicester and Crystal Palace?

Well, safe to assume that any players who do come into the starting eleven today, will have been amongst the nine on the subs bench the other night: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie, Longstaff, Murphy, Gayle, Willock

Chris Wood may have disappointed with his goals return so far but certainly not with his workrate. Yet again another 90+ largely thankless minutes, in terms of service to him, on Wednesday night, but Wood running himself into the ground for the cause. With eleven starts in less than seven weeks, including World Cup qualifiers for New Zealand, I think maybe today will be the day he drops to the bench. Two goals so far and realistically we could have expected maybe four in total based on the chances / service. However, no arguing with the number of points the January signing has helped NUFC accumulate. After 11 points from the opening 19 PL matches, with Chris Wood starting it has seen 29 points from the last 14 PL games. I think he has earned his likely rest this afternoon, though likely to come off the bench at some time.

The idea of Allan Saint-Maximin through the middle as a kind of false nine, is surely a non-starter on what we have seen so far when Eddie Howe has trialled it in games. So for me, it looks like a very rare start Dwight Gayle. If so, it would be the first Premier League start for Gayle in over a year, last seen starting in the PL win at Burnley on 11 April 2021. The 32 year old has only played 27 minutes so far in the Premier League this season but set to double that total today, in my opinion.

After dropping out through illness / injury, Joe Willock has came on as a sub these past two games and after superbly creating the winner against Leicester, helped see out the victory over Palace. I would be very surprised if the former Arsenal midfielder doesn’t start today.

Sean Longstaff has only started two Premier League games under Eddie Howe and did well in the second of those at Chelsea. Set to be out of contract at the end of June, Eddie Howe has said he wants to keep the lifelong Newcastle fan at the club. If Howe genuinely wants to convince Sean Longstaff to stay, then surely he has to start him today, especially with the midfielders in the team having put in such big shifts recently.

As to who Longstaff and Willock would replace, that is the big question, though if it does happen, I think it will be two from Bruno G, Shelvey and Joelinton who drop to the bench.

I think maybe Bruno needs protecting from himself and he has put so much into these two matches in the past six days, a place on the bench is for him today. Whilst it has been such a pleasant surprise / shock to see Jonjo Shelvey actually running about recently, after the closure of the Steve Bruce holiday camp and introduction of Eddie Howe’s tough love and training regime.

I can see Longstaff playing the Shelvey role with the former Swansea player rested, with Joelinton the only one of the midfield trio to retain his place.

Whilst Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron keep their places in the team, the Paraguayan no doubt on a massive high now, with his first goal in over 14 months and probably his best performance as well in that time, when beating Palace on Wednesday.

Predicted Newcastle team v Norwich:

Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett, Joelinton, Longstaff, Willock, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Gayle

So the three changes I think Eddie Howe will make.

Joe Willock, Sean Longstaff and Dwight Gayle, in for Bruno G, Jonjo Shelvey and Chris Wood.

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